Running or managing a business or building is, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, something that requires exceptionally large amounts of your time and dedication. It takes commitment, focus and a lot of hard work – especially in the early years. This is why it’s so important to utilise as many time management techniques and strategies as you reasonably can.
Time is not something that you can get back – if you’ve lost a day then you’ve lost a day. Best to learn from this and focus on tomorrow. But let’s try to avoid losing that day, and take a look at some time management tips that can help you, as a business owner or manager, stay focused and on top.
Find a Good Task and Project Management Solution
First, it could be wise to sort yourself out with a decent task and time management service, like Trello or Basecamp. These cloud based platforms will allow you to log and keep track of your tasks, set deadlines, and assign tasks, collaborate and share resources with individuals or teams. Users will be notified by email when a deadline is approaching, and since everything’s in the cloud you can access your tasks and projects anytime, from any device.
It goes without saying, and I’m not overly fond of cliches, however it’s true that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. This is especially true when it comes to effective time management for business owners. I like to spend up to half an hour each morning considering and organising all of the items I’d like to check off my list for the day, weighing up various factors such as urgency, complexity and deadlines.
Obviously. If you’re doing something that somebody else in your team can do equally well, why are you doing it? Of course you’re going to need to trust your people, and ensure that order is maintained, but that’ll come along in time.
Stay the Course
I’m a sucker for falling for this one, and it’s held me back more times than I care to count. When you’re working on a task, whether it’s sending an email to a client or building a wall, stay the course. Don’t start another task until your current one is fully complete. It’s better to have 1 completed goal and one yet to begin, rather than 2 half-finished jobs hanging over your head.
Plan for Disruptions
With the above in mind, certain things are bound to crop up that do require your attention. That’s fine. Plan for these. Tell your team that you’ve set a couple of 45 minute windows aside to deal with emergencies and other unforeseen issues, and make yourself available to put out any fires during this dedicated time slot.
Disruptions can break your gate, causing your to lose momentum which can be hard to get back. The will slow you down, messing with your schedule. If you take control of these disruptions and force them to march to the beat of your drum, then you can keep swinging without losing your rhythm.
Dedicate a Time for Replies
Here’s another one that I’m often guilty of myself. When I’m halfway through an objective and receive an email, I instinctively open it, read it and respond. I’m the type of person that likes to elaborate and explain myself in my emails, taking the time to put together a carefully worded and well written message.
In a similar vein to the planning for disruptions, dedicate some individual time slots throughout the day for reading and responding to your non-emergency messages.
Block Non-Business Distractions
Reading the news. Social media. Even – if you’re a child of the 90s – Solitaire.
It can be so easy to absentmindedly pick up your phone and give that Facebook icon a little tap. It’s almost muscle memory at this point. Try and retrain your brain to not default to such habitual distractions. It may take some time but it’ll be worth it in the end. And hey, we’re all talking about how we want to start using Facebook less anyway, right?
Nip Procrastination in the Bud
For this, you first have to know your weak spots. If you’re one of nature’s procrastinators then you should know what these are. When I sit down to work I don’t want to be convincing myself that it’s okay to get up again to make a coffee, or to do the washing up, paint the house, reorganise the attic and solve all crimes.
Don’t give future-you any excuses, and instead get all of your procrastination tactics out of the way before you sit down.
Let People Know You’re DnD
This is a simple solution, and so often the simple answers are the most effective. Just tell people that you’re not to be disturbed for the next few hours.
It’s hard for us Brits, of course, because this method involves communicating effectively with another person in a manner that might cause mild offence. If it makes you feel any better, you can always follow it up with a quick “sorry”.
Implement the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. This can be applied to many aspects of business, including time management. Once we’ve identified that magic 20% that produces the best results we can home in and focus on it because we now know where to put our money, so to speak.
Find that 20% that’s really working, and keep it well fed.
Simplify Your Operations
Business owners are spinning a lot of plates, and often have to wear many hats. Where possible, you should consider simplifying your operations into single solutions. This can often lead to saving money as well. For example, our managed services to help with your IT infrastructure, providing you with a single itemised invoice and freeing you up to focus on your business.
Get Into A Routine
Once you’ve established what works for you, it’s time to set it in stone. Try and aim for repeating the pattern each day, so that your routine becomes commonplace not only for you, but for your staff and teams as well. Soon enough it’ll become second nature, and you’ll find yourself breezing through a well organised day with fewer distractions and greater results for you and your business.
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